Kowalczyk, who won the 30km event in Vancouver, took the initiative from the start and finished in a time of 34:34.2, a commanding 41.8 seconds ahead of Russia’s Yulia Tchekaleva. Another Russian, Julia Ivanova, took third after a strong performance in the last uphill of the final lap.
Kowalczyk was delighted with her performance: “I lost some speed in the downhills but my skis worked perfect. I had everything under control and I’m very happy. Today’s competition was a good test before the Games.”
The Pole was 30km gold medalist in Vancouver four years ago, also claiming silver in the individual sprint and bronze in the 15km pursuit, and she looks sure to be one of the women to beat in Sochi.
The men’s 15km race was a tighter affair, won by Russia’s Maxim Vylegzhanin by just 2.2 seconds from countryman Evgeniy Belov. Kazakhstan’s Alexey Poltoranin finished a further 0.1 seconds off the pace to take third in an event that was still wide open just a few kilometres from the finishing line.
Frenzel lands unprecedented ‘triple’
Eric Frenzel made history on an unforgettable weekend in Seefeld (AUT), triumphing in the 5km, 10km and 15km events to take home the first ever Nordic Combined ‘triple’.
After triumphing in the first two events on Friday and Saturday, the German secured a historic achievement on Sunday by finishing 21.2 seconds ahead of Norway’s Haavard Klemetsen in the 15km race. Third place went to another Norwegian, Magnus Moan, who came in a further 7.9 seconds behind Frenzel.
Klemetsen, a veteran at 35, had led the event after two rounds of jumping, granting himself a ten-second advantage over Frenzel for the decisive cross-country race. Frenzel was able to close the gap quickly, and eventually cruised to his sixth win at Seefeld, with numerous Germans among the 17,500 crowd keen to celebrate their compatriot’s record-breaking weekend.
Frenzel now leads the overall rankings by 236 points ahead of Klemetsen, with reigning Olympic champion Jason Lamy Chappuis in third. The Nordic Combined circuit moves on to Oberstdorf (GER) next weekend, for the final event before Sochi 2014.
Russians rule the ice in Budapest
Russia led the way in European Figure Skating Championships in Budapest (HUN), claiming a clean sweep on the podium in the eagerly-awaited pairs’ event.
Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, the reigning national champions, scored 220.38 points to edge out world title holders Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, with Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov finishing third.
The Russians’ excellent form ahead of Sochi 2014 was underlined when Julia Lipnitskaia won the ladies’ event with a season-best score of 209.72 points. The 15 year-old finished ahead of compatriot Adelina Sotnikova, with defending and five-time champion Carolina Kostner (ITA) having to settle for third. Lipnitskaia was the first Russian winner of this event since Irina Slutskaia’s victory back in 2006.
The men’s event saw Spaniard Javier Fernandez, a bronze medalist at the Worlds last year, take the honours with 267.11 points. Russian pair Sergei Voronov and Konstantin Menshov finished second and third respectively.
The weekend’s final winners were Italian duo Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte, who won the ice dance ahead of another Russian pair, Elena Ilinych and and Nikita Katsalapov. Great Britain’s Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland took the final podium position.
Information on tickets for Sochi 2014 is available here: http://www.olympic.org/news/sochi-2014-olympic-winter-games-tickets/190291